January 13, 2007

January 13: Cambridge and Histon

CB2 Bistro: Saturday 1:20 pm GMT

We had our first real adventure today. Vanessa got two bikes ready and Rob and I biked in to Cambridge. We did our best to stay to the left hand side, but, as usual, the pedestrians and even other bicyclists didn’t.

Vanessa’s Kitchen, Histon: Saturday 8:55 pm GMT

Well, I didn’t get much more than that written because I spent the rest of my connection time fighting with Friday’s photo albums. :-P

We had just as much of an adventure coming back. After the cafe our directions were to swing by a grocery store and pick up a few items. So we headed back to Vanessa’s and hoped that we’d see a grocery store on the way. As we approached the bridge (btw, the bridge’s over the river Cam are what gave CamBridge it’s name, in case you hadn’t thought of that. ... I hadn’t.) I saw a nice pathway to the left away from the cars and another to the right of a hedge that went along the road. So I chose that nice looking pathway to the left... only to find that it led to the river and the underside of the bridge. (Whereas the right hand path had led across the bridge.)

So I stopped to take some pictures. When stuck where you hadn’t planned to be, take pictures, right?

We saw several teams of punters going past with their coaches biking alongside shouting out directions to them. Then we found a pedestrian bridge across the river and headed back the way we had been going. We weren’t seeing any grocery stores so we finally stopped to ask someone for directions. We’ve tried several times during our trip here to get help from people and they generally completely ignore us, but this gal was really nice and gave us rather good directions to the nearest Tesco. Unfortunately, those directions required us to go back the way we had come. :-P

So we headed back over the bridge and up the hill to a Tesco. Rob got lost in the tea aisle a couple of times (Rob loves English tea and generally has to order it from the UK online. So he’s hoping to stock up during this trip.) and I wandered through several aisles looking for red wine vinegar and finding other little odds and ends instead (like squash. No, I don’t mean the gourds that you cook and eat the flesh of. I mean glass bottles of juice. Juice presumably made from squashed fruit, yes?)

So we bought our items, packed up the bike bags and headed yet again for that bridge. We found Elizabeth street, managed our way around the round-a-bout onto Milton and cruised down Milton. I was just thinking to myself, “finally! a smooth stretch of road” when it dawned on me that we weren’t supposed to be on Milton very long. Somehow we’d missed Arbury at one of the round-a-bouts. (Have I mentioned that the English aren’t very good at labeling their streets?)

So we stopped and pulled out the map and determined that we were near Green something street. Which I couldn’t find anywhere on the map. But I did find Kings something or other on the map and it appeared we’d have to back track until we found that. So back we went until we hit the next street and I immediately recognized it as something on the map. I pull out my map again and realize that we had just been at the street we were looking for. But instead of seeing the King name, as it’s labeled on the map, we’d seen the Green name, which I finally found labeled on that road... after you travel aways down the map and around a corner. Bah! So not only are the street signs few and far between, but the maps aren’t labeled very well either.

We were using two of Vanessa’s bikes and we hadn’t adjusted the seats like we should have and by this point my legs felt like they were going to fall right off my body. Which would have been a relief because then I’d no longer feel the pain.

We pedaled on and finally crossed over the highway (see picture from previous day) and stopped at a light.

It was a red light.

We needed to turn left.

In America, you can turn right on red as long as the way is clear, right? So I figured that in the UK, you could turn left on red as long as the way was clear.

Well, you can’t.

And you really don’t want to do it when there’s a police car right there at the intersection. *sigh*

So I got pulled over and told that it was a 30 pound (read $60) fine and they were going to let me go this time but I shouldn’t do it again. :-P

As they pulled away Rob had a wonderful time ribbing me about it (and reminding me of the debacle in Nevada as well). Turkey.

So we headed home.

I’d just like to point out that as we cycled home we passed several cars that were parked right in the driving lane. Not off to the side as one might expect, but right in the lane (as there is not space to the side). This is normal.

Cars were also parked in the opposite direction of traffic. So for Americans who are trying hard to remember to ride on the left, having a car facing you (as would happen if you were driving on the left side in the States) is a little disconcerting... until you realize it’s parked.

And there are points in the road when the council (or whoever decides these things) has put in some poles... in the middle of the lane. They’re just there. I’ve got to take a picture. I haven’t done it yet, but I promise, I’ll get one on here soon. You won’t believe what you’re seeing.

And all these things are fine. But turning left on a read when there’s no one in the way, well that’s just wrong now, isn’t it?


Like I said. It was quite an adventure.

So once we got back I helped Katie look for a dress on eBay. Rob played frisbee with Nathaniel a bit. Then we had a macaroni dinner with salad. (Homemade macaroni with tuna and green olives. It was quite yummy.) And for dessert we had chocolate covered HobNobs and leftover cinnamon rolls.

Katie ended up winning her bid on one of the dresses. (It’s a long white prom dress with ties in the back that have little roses on them and a matching purse.)

Oh, and we finally had some good beers. ... Well, “finally” isn’t really appropriate because we liked the Abbot’s we had at the Tipperary Pub and at the Eagle. But today we had some McEwan’s Champion Scottish Ale (“which was wonderful”, Rob adds) and Broughton Champion Double Ale (“that was wonderful too”, says Rob). In general we’ve found that the beers we’ve had here have had less flavor, but the two we tried today (both Scottish ales) had much more flavor.

January 12: Cambridge

The Eagle in Cambridge: Friday 1:28 pm GMT

Vanessa dropped us off at an internet cafe this morning and I had a tea. Rob asked for a latte but what he got was the size of a cappaccino.

We walked around for a bit looking in thrift shops. Then we moved on toward the colleges, mostly just looking around and snapping photos. We plan to head back at 3 so we decided to stop for a leisurely beer at the Eagle. (We would have stopped somewhere else but we didn’t see anywhere else and came across this so we stopped.)

CB2 Bistro: Saturday 12:50 pm GMT

We walked back to Histon from Cambridge, which turned out to be almost an hour and a half walk. We got back just in time for popcorn and a movie (“Catch That Kid”) which we watched with Vanessa and the kids. Then Vanessa made dinner while Rob got a kick out of the kids’ slang (particularly the word manky meaning something along the lines of gross or ooey).

Dinner was spaghetti and salad and Ness made a batch of sauce for me without meat. :-) It was really good and was followed up with some homemade cinnamon rolls. Can’t beat that. We hung out and talked for a bit more and then hit the hay.

-- I’m making two photo albums for today. I took several pictures of the kids but I don’t want to post them to “everybody.” So if you’re a friend of Nessa’s and want to see the pics, let me know and I’ll send you an email key. --